“The Wolf of Wall Street” ironically opened on Christmas, a day of giving with love, and has, ever since, stirred up much controversy over its glorification of an unrepentant thief, Jordan Belfort. an ex-stockbroker “convicted of fraud crimes related to stock market manipulation and running a penny stock boiler room for which he spent 22 months in prison” (Wikipedia). While I am happy to close the door to this Scorsese film, I find myself struggling that others are declaring the 180 minutes as brilliance. Award season hoopla aside, let me ask you, how did you feel when you left the theater? Did you reach back for your coat to brave the outdoors with sensations akin to the flu? Did you find being a voyeur to the unsexy-sex, drug-abuse and blow-out-debauchery an excellent use of time? I will admit right here, in my introduction, that this film left me angry, and even now, a week later, I’d classify it as dangerous. Shall we disrobe the wolf?
In The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly, the fabulous antagonist, rants about style and trends and color in relation to what ‘we’ simple shoppers experience while scanning department store displays. She is not exactly trying to teach her new assistant about the hierarchy of fashion, but in a backhanded way reveals how trends trickle down from the walkway to our sale racks. I never shop without hearing her tirade in my mind!
“This stuff’? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.”
Besides the brilliance of Meryl Streep’s delivery and the careful crafting of Aline Brosh McKenna’s screenplay we are left stunned by the machine of the fashion industry, and from runways to sale bins, you realize how superb but limiting trends are on our shopping. We are dictated to–except–and here is where I am most excited–except if you shop outside of the box.